20 January 2017 the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) was given an overview of the objectives of the space strategy for Europe, and approved Estonia’s positions that enable to create a business environment for the growth of space startups, ensure Europe’s leading position in space sector and increase Europe’s role on the global space markets.
According to the Deputy Chairman of the Committee Jaak Madison, Estonia supports the objectives of the space strategy for Europe and thinks that besides the state, it is also important to involve private sector. “Space has a great potential, and using it could bring great benefits to both Estonian businesses and the economy as a whole,” Madison said. “It is a great possibility for the Estonian software industry for developing new applications.”
Madison noted that startups had a special role in the space strategy for Europe. Emphasis has also been laid on sharing of platforms. In Madison’s opinion, it is necessary to create an environment where more startups could act in this sector, and public sector should support innovation and procure its services from those startups.
“The target is to produce services and applications with export potential, and also make foreign companies look toward Estonia, so that they would be ready to bring their new developments here,” Madison said.
For Estonia, close connections between education and innovation are very important in developing of space technology. The implementation of European space systems in science should be continued as well.
Besides that, Estonia considers it necessary to focus on the security and industrial policy dimension of the space sector, because defence industry and space industry are closely interconnected and support each other. The Economic Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu has also approved Estonia’s positions.
The European Union owns Earth observation system Copernicus, and satellite navigation and geo-positioning systems EGNOS and Galileo.
Member of the European Union Affairs Committee Oudekki Loonesaid it was very important to consider achieving the full potential of Galileo a priority, so that it would be possible to develop the services that are aimed at end consumer, and are necessary for the use of navigation devices for mobile phones and cars or watching satellite TV.
Member of the committee Liisa Oviir noted that earth observation had many fields of application. She said that, for example, it would be possible to check the situation of fields and ascertain if the state subsidies had been used for their intended purpose. Such collecting of information would enable to save the working time of people who at the moment collect data from the earth, but it would be possible to get information about the whole country in one moment from the space.
Estonia’s annual contribution to the European Space Agency (ESA) totals 2.5 million euro, of which 900,000 euro is the mandatory contribution to ESA, 600,000 euro is the annual fee for participation in the optional earth observation programme, and about one million euro goes to the development of technologies.
In 2014–2020, the European Union invests more than 12 billion euro to the space sector. More than 230,000 specialists work in the European space industry, and according to estimations it creates around 46–54 billion euro of added value. One third of the world’s satellites are produced in Europe.
The Committee was given explanations by expert of the Economic Development Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Paul Liias.